If you were up late on Sunday night, you got a treat in the form of the MCLA brackets being posted early! So I’m here to give you instant reaction on the teams that got in, the seeding, and the matchups for the first round of the 2013 MCLA D1 Tournament.
For starters, it looks like the committee did an outstanding job. What follows is, admittedly, splitting hairs in the few instances where I would’ve done things differently. It appears that the overall field was largely decided before the conference tournaments, and there were really only one or two “surprises” in the field.
Here is a picture of the bracket from MCLA.us, you can view the full page with links to individual matchups there at MCLA.us as well:
Here are the teams in Seed order, with AQ or AL status indicated:
- Colorado State (RMLC AQ)
- Colorado (At Large)
- Arizona State (SLC AQ)
- Brigham Young (At Large)
- Chapman (At Large)
- UC Santa Barbara (At Large)
- Stanford (WCLL AQ)
- Boston College (PCLL AQ)
- Sonoma State (At Large)
- Michigan State (CCLA AQ)
- Oregon State (PNCLL AQ)
- Oregon (At Large)
- Grand Canyon (At Large)
- Georgia (SELC AQ)
- Texas (LSA AQ)
- Purdue (GRLC AQ)
When looking at the field you really only have one true “surprise” in the form of Oregon State. I’ll cover each team below individually, but the OSU win over Oregon in the PNCLL title game likely knocked out one of the bubble teams, because Oregon State did not have a resume to get into the field.
How the Bubble Likely Shook Out
So who was on the bubble and the teams that came the closest to getting in? The bubble came down to these teams competing for At Larges:
- Grand Canyon
Let’s look at each one’s case to get in, and why the committee got it right with Oregon and Grand Canyon. We’ll go in reverse order to show you the who-beat-who trail to our current field:
Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh is in the At Large discussion based off two wins over Davenport, a converted D1-from-D2 team, that showed life and good wins over Simon Fraser and Virginia Tech in a strong first year D1 campaign. The Davenport wins essentially eliminated Davenport from discussion, but outside of those two wins Pittsburgh didn’t have much else to hang their hat on, despite a hard luck 1 goal loss to Michigan State in the CCLA title game. So close, yet so far.
Connecticut – A late schedule had many wondering if their lofty computer rankings were deserved. Yes and no. The team wasn’t a paper tiger, as proven by their 11-1 regular season record, including wins over Virginia Tech, Texas State, Northeastern, and Pittsburgh. The last of that list likely serving as an elimination game for the committee in this At Large discussion. But in the end, Connecticut had a lot of “good” wins, but not a single one against the established tournament field of AQ’s and highest ranking AL’s. Similar to Pittsburgh, missing the AQ meant the season was over.
California - Is there a worse way to go out than how Cal did in 2013? Planted firmly in the Top 10 up until the final poll, two brutal losses to rival Stanford end up being the final nail in the coffin for the Golden Bears. Cal was a team all season long that the nation agreed was good, but just didn’t end up having wins that could make a case for great. Go back and look at Cal’s schedule, and the only win against the tournament field as it stands is Oregon. A head-to-head win takes precedent in most situations, but…
Oregon – The Ducks overcome the Cal loss, a fellow bubble team, by virtue of having two wins against AQ teams (Chapman and Oregon State) and a third win against WCLL runner-up and locked in AL Sonoma State. The Ducks get a lot of love and an equal amount of hate from the MCLA fans around the country, for reasons largely unknown to yours truly, but the committee rewarded the Ducks for scheduling extremely hard and getting enough wins in those OOC matchups to get to Greenville.
Grand Canyon – While Oregon got in with three strong wins despite the head-to-head loss to Cal, Grand Canyon took a different path to be the last team into the field. Grand Canyon’s resume is built off one win, and one win alone, I don’t care who says otherwise: the Arizona State win gets the Lopes to Greenville in their first year as a D1 team. Now realistically, GCU has another factor in its favor: Carson Barton. Does one player earn a trip to the national tournament? No, but was there another player in the bubble pool that has an affect on a first round matchup like Barton? Yeah, I’ll wait…
What I Would Change
Overall, this bracket is outstanding. Every first round matchup provides a storyline … well, OK, CSU/Purdue maybe doesn’t make my toes curl up in anticipation, but you get the idea. There is only one thing I would’ve changed:
Swap Oregon and Oregon State’s seeds: Why? The committee likely felt hamstrung by the Oregon State upset in the PNCLL (the first time since 2002 a team other than Oregon or Simon Fraser won the PNCLL). While the committee did a good job preventing first round matchups, they still ended up with Chapman and Oregon meeting not only for the second time this season, but in a repeat matchup from the 2012 MCLA Tournament first round. Should last year’s tournament have an affect on this year’s seedings? No, not in most cases. But really? Chapman/Oregon again?!?! It will be a great game, and Chapman will be seething for revenge. These two teams have no love lost for each other. But with a simple swap putting Oregon in the 11 line would have created an obvious UCSB/Oregon matchup (one of the few West Coast duos to not have a regular season matchup) and also an unpredicatable Champan/Oregon State matchup (the two teams haven’t met since 2006).
It’s splitting hairs. I admit. And I know while the committee met, someone surely uttered this phrase verbatim, “We can’t seed Oregon above OSU when the Beavers just beat the Ducks.” But still, first round matchups repeated! Aughhhh. So close. So close.
The committee did an outstanding job. The slightest markdown for the Oregon/Chapman repeat game, but if that’s the worst thing in this field, then I think we are set for a great tournament!